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Enabling Player Fun – Preventing Peevish Pervacity

Posted By John Arcadian On November 28, 2011 @ 12:46 am In GMing Advice | 18 Comments

I sat there at the gaming table, waiting to actually game. We’d started an hour ago, and after all of the usual bullshitting around, looking up youtube videos, and sharing jokes, we’d finally gotten into it. A brief encounter that set us on our path and the Game Master had to look up some info. While we waited, one of the other players started asking advice about leveling up his character. This went on for a few minutes, and then it kept going on, and on, and on, and on. The player kept mulling over which feat he would take at next level, and then looking in this book or the other, grabbing them from the various awkwardly titled piles around the gaming room. Every time the GM got ready to get us back into it, the other player would pipe up with another character question, suggestion, or thought for what he would do NEXT level. The mood was growing a bit tense, and it was not solely emanating from my direction. The Game Master was a bit new to being in control and he didn’t seem sure how to get back on track. It was an hour and a half before we really got back into actually gaming, and then it only occurred cause I dropped all aspects of politeness and pushed things along. I was annoyed for the rest of the session, you see wasting time at the table instead of gaming is one of my biggest peeves when I’m a player.

Peeves
imageA peeve, as defined by the online Merriam Webster dictionary is “a particular grievance or source of aggravation”. Everybody has peeves, those little things that annoy us to a great degree, even if they are only rather minor. The way someone chews, the way some people drive, etc. Gaming being a supremely social activity is ripe ground for pet peeves, and they can really kill a gaming session. A peeved player is someone who isn’t paying attention or having fun. In extreme cases, peeved players act on the psychological need to make others as miserable as they are and start to sabotage the game even more, sometimes not realizing it.

And every player has peeves that can be particular to gaming. Some players might get peeved by other players being rules lawyers or being argumentative. Some players might get peeved by Monty Haul Game Masters, or Game Masters who show favor to certain people at the table. Some players might get peeved by cell phone usage or texting at the table, some might get peeved by railroading or a lack of certain elements in a game rendering their character concept less effective. The types of things that might get a player peeved are as limitless as there are gamers in the world. As the Game Master of your game, you have some power to control and mitigate these situations.

”Wait a minute John, are you saying that I, as the Game Master, should be responsible for protecting players by preventing their peeves?”
Is it unreasonable to ask you, the Game Master, to deal with a player’s peeves? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, and I like your use of alliteration. You can’t really be held responsible for the fact that player is peeved by the way someone else chews their pizza or slurps their mountain dew, but as the quasi-leader of the social activity that is most gaming, you are the one who has the authority to keep the game moving and help enable the fun. If a player is getting peeved by game related or hampering activities, then you have some ability and responsibility to deal with it if it is reasonable.

In the personal example I wrote about above, I feel that it was the Game Master’s responsibility to keep things moving. Figuring out character options at the table isn’t really so annoying, but when it eats up a good chunk of the gaming time of 6 players, it can become an issue. I could only act in certain ways as a player, gently suggesting we get moving or trying to do things in character to push the game back into action. The Game Master could reasonably ask the other player to hold off on character building until we actually leveled, but as a player, none of us could say “It’s time to put the book down and actually play now”,  without it coming off as somewhat confrontational. Besides which, most of the players’ mental states of annoyance, especially mine,  would have made it come out as: Hey Dumbass! Let’s set the book down and do something in character before I give you a real close up view of the wording of that skill!” 

imageAnd that is the attitude of a peeved player. It’s not rational, it’s not the correct response, but a peeve is a minor annoyance that takes on significant importance in a person’s mind. That kind of attitude is dangerous to the social situation and the fun of the game.

Recognizing and Preventing Peeves
So, in those areas where you have the power and responsibility to intervene, how can you? Well, the first step is to recognize when players are getting peeved. It isn’t hard to tell annoyance on a player’s face, and it is easier when they are your friends who you are familiar with. So look for moments of annoyance, seeing if players are agitated or more fidgety than normal. Look for signs of stress or consternation. Mostly, you are looking for things that are out of the ordinary for particular players.

Knowing a player is peeved is easy, knowing why is often harder. Knowing your players makes this easier, but they might not be vocal about their annoyances. Nobody likes to be the complainer, so if you don’t know that player X hates things Y, look for what else is going on at the table or what has just happened. Maybe the annoyance from player X is because of the way that last combat went or the fact that they felt that the trap that nearly killed them shouldn’t have been as lethal. Recognizing the annoyance AND the source of it are the first and second steps in keeping things running smoothly. The final step is in dealing with it.

imageYou are kind of screwed if your players are Iguana,
they always look peeved.

Dealing with a particular peeve is going to be all about controlling and smoothing over that particular situation. I’m not saying to roll over whenever a player is unsatisfied, but to step in and take action when it is appropriate. If you notice a player being peeved about being tricked by a surprise trap, throw in a chance for the players to ambush a lone goblin or guard. When they know that being surprised by something in the game works both ways, hat will psychologically balance out the feeling of inequality. If you notice a source of annoyance originating from one of the player’s activities, such as not paying attention and texting on the phone, address it in as polite a manner as possible. Every situation will be different and require a different level of directness and tact, but dealing with a significant annoying factor will help things run smoother. Determine what is annoying and deal with it in the politest and nicest manner possible.

Chime In
As I was writing this, giving a few weeks space to the idea in order to not write about it in the heat of the moment, I realized that this is a very touch subject. So I’m interested to hear what you think. Do you think it is the Game Master’s responsibility to deal with things that might peeve off players? What do you do as a player to get your peeves addressed? What do you do as a Game Master to deal with a peeved player? What are some of your peeves. Chime in, I’m highly interested in hearing what you have to say on the subject of peeves.

 

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About  John Arcadian

John Arcadian is the head of Silvervine Games, a freelance writer and art director, a website developer, a builder of sonic screwdrivers, and a purveyor of kilted mayhem. When he isn't out causing trouble in his kilt... Well, no, that is pretty much what he does when he isn't running RPGs or or trying to take over the world.




18 Comments (Open | Close)

18 Comments To "Enabling Player Fun – Preventing Peevish Pervacity"

#1 Comment By Redcrow On November 28, 2011 @ 4:05 am

I don’t think it is solely the GM’s responsibility to deal with things that peeve off players. I think it is the responsibility of the one who is peeved to address the issue. If something another player (or the GM) does bothers you to the point that it greatly diminishes your enjoyment of the game, then I think its important to get it out in the open immediately; before your annoyance festers to the point you end up saying something you might regret.

So if one player is holding up the game planning out their characters next level, I would just say… “Hey, can you take care of that later. I’d really like to get the game going.” before my annoyance reaches the point that it comes out like this instead… “Hey, close the book, sit down and shut up.”

And yes, in ~30yrs of gaming I’ve said both which is why I know well how letting an annoyance fester can end poorly.

#2 Comment By John Arcadian On November 28, 2011 @ 7:26 am

@Redcrow – It definitely isn’t solely the Game Master’s responsibility to address player peeves, but the Game Master does have a different position at the table than the players. Hearing “Hey, can you take care of that later. I’d really like to get the game going.” from the GM comes with a different weight than hearing it from another player. It tends to be more effective and less inflammatory. It definitely isn’t wrong for the player being annoyed to mention it, but it has more potential for conflict than the GM dealing with it. I think it falls much more into the Game Master’s responsibility when it affects the game in general, but sometimes noticing that a single player is peeved can be an indicator that others are as well but aren’t showing it.

#3 Comment By Razjah On November 28, 2011 @ 7:49 am

I agree with Redcrow. It is not the GM’s responsibility to keep players from peeving other players. Mediating that dispute, probably. But, as a GM I only have control over the game, so I can make sure that the things in game don’t peeve players.

#4 Comment By Razjah On November 28, 2011 @ 7:53 am

@John Arcadian – Okay, I typed my previous post before you replied to Redcrow. Now I get where you are coming from. But if another player doesn’t say anything, is the GM supposed to just intuitively know what is bother the other players. The GM can pay attention to cues, but a peeve can look an awful lot like a bad day. Although, the GM should probably do something to help with that too.

#5 Comment By Roxysteve On November 28, 2011 @ 8:12 am

My pet peeve is people using “rules lawyering” as a peeve.

Real conversation:

FFS, identifying stuff takes a pearl. We didn’t bring any. Just move on. We’ll get some later, and also find a more comfortable place to squat while you do it than this damp, dark cave in which every monster known to GM-kind has been incontinent since time began. Oh, you want to “let that slide”?

Okay then, I’ll just let this here empty quiver slide then. My arrows are just like your spell components – I expend them to get results. Now I don’t have to. I can be like Orlando Bloom: stand looking vaguely in the right direction and make plucking motions on a non-existent bowstring. Lucky for me I’m using magical imaginary arrows.

BoD

#6 Comment By Roxysteve On November 28, 2011 @ 8:23 am

Or to put it more succinctly: One man’s rules lawyering is another man’s impetus for good role-playing.

90% of rule eliding (the thing that usually triggers “rules lawyering”) is about avoiding privation. All well and good, but without privation there is no “epic” quality to the job at hand. A siege is just a boring wait in the castle if there are supplies a-plenty, and a grueling 40-day dash across the Sahara is just a sandy vacation in food and water are “not a problem”.

Amundsen: Went to the pole. It was cold. No biggie.
Survivors of Titanic: Lucky for us the water was body temperature and everyone could swim otherwise things could have gotten nasty.
101st Airborne: Lucky we had warm clothing, lots of food and plenty of ammo so we could wait them out in our centrally heated armored bunkers.

Of course, it is possible to take things too far, but stop calling me a rule lawyer just because your attention span prevents you from reading more than two consecutive lines in a rulebook before zoning out.

Your mileage may vary, but so may your sense of achievement when the quest is over.

#7 Comment By John Arcadian On November 28, 2011 @ 8:45 am

@Razjah – I realized the concept might be a bit controversial and almost made this a hot button article, but I didn’t want to write it in that kind of format. I feel the player definitely has a responsibility to bring it up in some way if it annoys him that much. I also get that a normal part of the GM’s toolbox isn’t monitoring player behavior. I do feel GMs that watch the players for cues do tend to be better in making a game more fun for everyone. If you are already looking over the players faces to see how they are responding to the game, you might also be able to pick out how they are responding to other players. IF you can AND IF you should do something about an issue before it boils over, then bonus points. Here is an example:

I was GMing a standard D&D game. One player played a sneaky thief, another player played a SMASH MY WAY THROUGH ANYTHING character. The player of the sneaky thief would be annoyed when the SMWTA player wouldn’t give him a chance to use his character because he would just charge in, and the SMWTA would be annoyed at not getting to do anything while the thief picked a lock or snuck in to get a sneak attack on enemies they ambushed instead of just attacking. There was tension between the players based on play style of the characters. They came from different groups with different play styles and were quietly fuming at each other instead of sharing the spotlight. I jumped in on a few occasions to prevent there being major issues and eventually talked to each player separately about what the game was and sharing the spotlight. Without GM intervention, it would have exploded into something much worse.

@Roxysteve – It sounds like a clash of play styles. I’ve played in and run games with both styles – Some where every victory was hard won but well earned, and others where the details were glossed over for the narrative combat. Both had epic feels, but they were very different epic feels. The thing that prevented “Bad” rules lawyering was that the feel of each game was set out beforehand. “Hey guys, this is going to be a very grim and gritty game. Track every bullet, every supply, cause this game isn’t going to be a cake walk.” Knowing that up front cut down on people wanting to let things slide. One game I was in as a player even gave a very minimal XP bump each session if the whole group was good about adherence to the elements of every day life and the gritty details and hassles.

#8 Comment By Razjah On November 28, 2011 @ 9:30 am

@John Arcadian – I realized I was going about this the wrong way. I think my original posts were not clear, I apologize for being misleading. Also, thank you for giving a more extended example, I definitely understand what you mean now.

However, I do not think that solving player vs player action should be the job of the GM. I think the players should be upfront about things like this. If I am playing a sneaky characters, I want to be sneaky. If someone is playing SMWTA he or she wants to do that. This is fine, I think the players should discuss this, at the table, so that everyone is made aware of the situation. The group can look for situations to help sneaky guy be sneaky and SMWTA guy to smash things. They can even find situations to help each other do what they want.

I think more responsibility should be on the players because this is a social activity. The players should seek compromise and do their best to be polite about this. “Listen, Frank, I understand that you want to kick in the door and go nuts with your new rage abilities. But, if you wait a bit and let me sneak ahead, I can disarm some traps while you come charging in and we can work together to kill the remaining orcs. You still gets to kill stuff, and I still get to be sneaky. Can you help me with this?”

Starting like this should happen before the behavior gets too annoying. Then if it persists the GM can step in, explaining to the players that this is a cooperative game and what the focus of the game is about. Awarding things like bennies for cooperative play can also help in this situation.

#9 Comment By John Arcadian On November 28, 2011 @ 11:19 am

@Razjah – These are the well informed, well reasoned types of conversations I like on articles.

Let me throw out a related but different idea. Martin proposed a theory of the players have flashlights, the GM has a 150 watt lightbulb on an old treasure tables post. That definitely holds true for things happening in the game, but I’d propose that it holds true for the social situation at the table as well. When I sit down at the table as a player, I’m thinking about my own actions or character and what type of fun I want to have. I realize that everyone else is doing that for their own characters as well, but that isn’t really where I’m worried. I sat down for an entertainment experience and my thinking will be coded to that. As the Game Master, I sat down to run an entertainment experience and derive certain pleasure from doing that well. My perspective is focused on all the players and on the interactions with the story/game. GMs are in a unique position to see issues that could explode before they blow up. The character building at the table is from my perspective, but the other peeves (that I got from responses to a google+ post I made) MIGHT be handled better by the game master as well. They might not be, but the GM has often held a place of authority in the social situation and can resolve things with a few words. The best option in most situations is group discussion, compromise, and conclusion, but that might not happen or be possible before a conflict or annoyance boils over.

I’m enjoying this conversation and the opposing viewpoint, so I’d be more than happy to hear any other thoughts you (or anyone else) has on it.

#10 Comment By Razjah On November 28, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

@John Arcadian – I’m liking this too. It’s interesting and gives me more to think about.

Speaking of thinking, I didn’t think about the light bulb vs flashlight issue. I think the situation can change a lot based on that. If you are solely focused on your own fun, then I agree that GM arbitration is probably the best way to handle these situations. But, it seems, to me, an odd to approach a social game that way.

Here’s an example: I play Magic: the Gathering pretty much exclusively in multiplayer games. I play for blood, much like I would in a game of Risk, Axis and Allies, or even Monopoly. While I am playing with my friends, at the end of the night nothing changed if I was wrecking people’s plans to win for one night. I play to maximize my chances of winning. I don’t do this in rpgs. I try to help other players find things they can do to increase their fun, try being a key word here.

I don’t know if it is an awareness thing, or just a different way to approach gaming. I see sitting down to game very similar to sitting in my apartment with friends. I may step on each other’s toes, but I apologize and try to keep that from happening again. I do the same in D&D, Vampire, Savage Worlds, Mutants and Masterminds, or other games. If someone who is playing a sneaky character has an idea to approach a fortress, and I have a different one- I tell that player. He can decide what to do, but giving another path isn’t bad. I expect a bit of help when I rush into a room guns blazing- if I should be shooting the Terminator I hope Mr. Sneaky tells me to focus on the guy who looks like Schwarzenegger. If I ruin Mr. Sneaky’s chance to be sneaky once, no big deal. If I do that all night, I’m ruining his fun. I would expect that player to tell me in a way that isn’t hostile. I would hopefully apologize and seek a compromise.

Maybe it is the timing for the “intervention”? Talking about problems early can usually lead to very frank and open sharing about what is bothering someone and a way to fix the problem. Waiting usually leads to one person being a bit too emotionally driven and reacting with hostility. The other person then retaliates and it creates a spiral.

#11 Comment By Snargash Moonclaw On November 28, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

Clearly a topic of significance for some given the amount of discussion by only a couple of people that it’s generated in just a few hours from posting – I expect by this time tomorrow we’ll be scrolling down into the sub-basement! It’s a timely one for me since I’m about to get a campaign rolling that’s been on hold for a couple of years now trying to find sufficient (GURPS interested) players to get it to fly. This brings me to the point in the topic which, surprisingly, no one has really addressed in the discussion (outside of telling players what to expect in a campaign) – keyword: *prevention*.

Discussion so far has focused on who’s responsibility it is to fix what after it’s become a problem (and has certainly been valid in both senses of being good and on-topic – that’s not a complaint). Next Sunday will be the first session with my new group and will be a meta-gaming meet-and-greet rather than an actual play session. (None of the three confirmed players know each other, I only know one at all well and a potential fourth is a friend/co-worker of his I haven’t had a chance to talk with – not sure that he’ll be there tho’.) Anyway, 2 of the 3 still need to complete their characters (a rather complicated process when using GURPS with a lot of it’s options) and the 3rd needs to brush his up (was generated a couple of years back during a previous attempt to dig up GURPS players here in PDX). So I’ll be taking a bit from Martin’s PDF article “More is Better: Group Character Creation” (http://www.treasuretables.org/downloads).

Doing group character gen will also provide an opportunity for the players to tell *each other* what they want in the campaign rather than just the GM and clarify their various playing styles so they can reach some (conscious/deliberate) consensus regarding what they’ll be doing around the table and how best to facilitate each other. This is particularly important (vital/essential even) with my GMing style and goals – (from my intro blurb online various places including http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/of-poets-fools-and-madmen) “Tuatha Shanachie Corrsorcha, (Gael: the Storytellers’ Clan of the Bright Crane), is an RPG Storytelling Circle founded along the DragonSpine. Gaming in TSC is based on the concept that RPGs are taking the magick of the traditional storyteller’s circle to a deeper level. Rather than passive audience members asking a storyteller to relate some tale of one of their favorite heroes, a group of storytellers comes together to share and weave the tales of their favorite characters with each other in the context of a larger Story. Gaming rules simply provide conventions to facilitate this process in a consistent and coherent fashion which allows all the storytellers to participate equally.”

I will be polling this week in advance of the session as to how they want to handle character secrets and what they may want to keep out of the group discussion – all three character concepts incorporate secrets in their past which have garnered them some pretty serious enemies. In campaigns past I have pushed players toward “don’t tell them what their characters don’t know” in order to prevent meta-gaming problems on the theory that other character play can’t inadvertently act upon or be influenced by player knowledge if the other players don’t have the knowledge in the first place.

So this is actually a new approach for me in making the campaign, setting and characters more transparent to the players. In looking at the matter however, I think that the campaign/GMing style which I’m presenting incorporates an inherent expectation of some greater degree of “maturity” in the players (even if inexperienced with RPGs) than is likely to present problems of meta-gaming (likewise rules-lawyering) and appeals to such as well. Maturity here reads kind of snobbish to me, but I can’t really think of what else to call the characteristic(s) to which I’m referring. (And I know that my campaign style is certainly not for everyone.) These (that I’ve mentioned – *not* player peeves in general!) are problems I tend to associate with munchkin/power play and my GMing style simply doesn’t offer a game in which “character optimization” and the like are of any significant benefit. The gist of that is that I think I can trust my players to be aware of the process and what everyone wants from it enough, at the very least, not to (mis)use player knowledge (and rules knowledge for that matter) in ways which will spoil the development of story for each other if not actually using it in ways which will enhance it. Experience has shown me that this isn’t always the case. (I’m trying not to come-off as ragging on those whose play style is significantly different from what I’m trying to present; they’re playing to have fun too. What may spoil my style of story development and play doesn’t necessarily spoil the game when of a different style.)

The point of this whole WoT is that my campaign is at the optimum time/stage for “Preventing Peevish Pervacity” and in spite of the fact that I’ve been running off at the fingers about all this great stuff I’m doing to get the campaign started well I’m asking for further suggestions/exploration of a preventive nature. John’s Sneak vs Smasher problem sounds like it could have been prevented if the players had had the opportunity to do as Razjah described, i.e., “I think the players should be upfront about things like this. If I am playing a sneaky characters, I want to be sneaky. If someone is playing SMWTA he or she wants to do that. This is fine, I think the players should discuss this, at the table, so that everyone is made aware of the situation. The group can look for situations to help sneaky guy be sneaky and SMWTA guy to smash things. They can even find situations to help each other do what they want. ”

While he was talking about dealing with the problem after the fact (when the campaign is already well under way), I’m proposing that doing the same thing beforehand could have produced a positive interaction rather than the conflict which occurred. This prompts me to wonder what other issues can be likewise prevented (and how) if addressed at the very start of a campaign.

As for the utility of this topic thread, not to limit it to “what to do the next time you start a campaign,” I would add that preventive measures aren’t limited to preliminaries; GM’s can certainly incorporate some into an ongoing campaign to help keep it on track and the introduction of a new player into an established group offers an especially good window of opportunity to do so.

#12 Comment By Razjah On November 28, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

@Snargash Moonclaw – I think that using something I remember from reading through Burning Wheel and the associated forums (I’m not sure exactly where I got this): be open with some metagame information. The example I remember was two characters who are scheming to backstab each other (possibly kill each other). The players are aware of this- their characters are not. The players will walk into something they know the player set up, because the character has no reason to assume deceit. The players are very open, “My character will probably try to kill yours in his sleep next session.”

I think that if you use something like that and encourage everyone to play out the awesome story, even if their character is endangered, it will lead to a better campaign. Sometimes being transparent is a good thing. I think this is one of those times. It is hard to take offense to the wizard catching your fighter with a fireball when you both know the wizard and fighter do not get along well.

The Dragonlance novels handle this pretty well. Raistlin works with the party, while planning to betray them/ abandon them and the party knows it! Everyone knows Raist can’t be trusted, but he never does anything until his final move when he leaves them to their own fates. If the player running Raistlin was upfront about planning the betrayal, and the characters fall for it, that loss makes the story more real.

So, be upfront about it. Trust the players to run a good game with an exciting story.

#13 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On November 28, 2011 @ 9:48 pm

The GM has a few things in his favor for intervening.

One, he can see the group interaction from a more neutral position. The players are in the thick of it, and can’t see each other’s positions as easily.

Two, the GM is ‘another person’. When Alex and Beth are butting heads, Charlie can come up with a solution that they’ll both like. But if either of them had come up with it, the other wouldn’t like it because of who came up with it.

Three, the GM is the leader of the group (or should be). The GM’s authority extends beyond mere rules adjudication, and into the realm of interpersonal arbitration.

None of this should read that the players should let the GM fight their fights for them, but when it comes time to end the intergroup conflict or get the game rolling, the GM has the most ammo.

(All IMHO; YMMV, etc.)

#14 Comment By Razjah On November 29, 2011 @ 7:17 am

@Kurt “Telas” Schneider – I agree with this. But I think that before the players are actually butting heads it is their responsibility to try to work out their dispute. If things are getting heated, the GM should step in to prevent any kind of long lasting harm to the group.

I think your second point highlights why I think the players need to act first. I game with friends, I don’t want to end up in a situation where my friend has an idea to solve a problem and I shoot it down simply because he came up with it. If the players take action, even before the first point, there may never even need to be an arbitrator.

I am not trying to be argumentative, I do think the GM can and should step in when situations get heated at the table. However, I think it is the players’ responsibility first. If one player asks the GM to help because he or she doesn’t want to come off aggressive or have things taken the wrong way- that is fine, step in. But the players should be more transparent about their gaming likes and dislikes so the group can have more fun in an area everyone enjoys.

#15 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On November 29, 2011 @ 9:22 am

@Razjah – I agree with everything you wrote. When players can work it out, they should. But when they can’t or won’t, the GM needs to step up.

#16 Comment By Razjah On November 29, 2011 @ 9:50 am

@John Arcadian – I have a question about your initial example starting this article, did anyone say anything to the player about making the level up decisions later so that everyone could get back to the game? It sounds like people were trying to ignore something that was bothering them (you said it wasn’t just you). When the GM tried to get everyone back on the game, the player started disrupting things again.

My points throughout this discussion have been that the players need to take responsibility to act first. I am wondering if any players made that first step before you “dropped all aspects of politeness”. If they did, do you know why they didn’t work? Did anyone take the player aside to explain why the behavior is disruptive to everyone’s fun?

#17 Comment By John Arcadian On November 29, 2011 @ 11:47 am

@Snargash Moonclaw – Group character creation would definitely have helped that game, and it was planned. It just didn’t happen due to planning logistics. I inherited the game after a few levels had passed and a few player changes occurred, one reason things ended in a much less than desirable position.

@Razjah – In the way you described, no. That did not occur. It was mentioned a time or two by various players, but more in the vein of “Hey, let’s get back to game.”. The reason it was never brought up in a more direct manner can be attributed to 2 reasons on everyone’s part and a particular one on mine. The first group reason is mere politeness. I don’t think anyone wanted to confront the annoying behavior, figuring it wouldn’t be a constant thing. It did end up being a constant thing. The second group reason is that,IMHO, I think everyone felt it was the Game Master’s responsibility. That might sound passive, but the group didn’t seem to feel they bore the responsibility for the other players delay of the game. The more of a problem it got, the more grumbling went on. Another player and I talked about it in-depth after the game and both had similar feelings about speaking up about it. The reason particular to me is that I am usually the GM for our core group. The player in question was an invite from the GM and not normally part of our core group. I didn’t want to usurp the GM’s power since this was one of his initial forays into gaming and I didn’t want to confront a person I didn’t know well enough and cause a lingering situation. I felt that the player could forgive the GM for telling him to stop character building at the table because keeping the game moving is part of GM responsibility, but a confrontation from another player might cause a minor wound that could fester and implode the game.

#18 Comment By Razjah On November 29, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

@John Arcadian – Well, in this situation things get a lot more complicated. I completely understand the politeness aspect and not wanting things to come across poorly. I also understand how interacting with a new player could be difficult in this situation. I’m am not sure about how to handle the GM invited player vs core group dynamic. I’m at college and tend to game with a new group from my role playing club every semester.

I want to point out that I am completely on-board with your article now that I have some more information. There were a few dynamics working in this situation making player intervention much more complex and difficult. The GM should step in when things get tense so that players are not yelling at each other during a game.

Did anyone talk with this player yet, away from the game*? If not, I think someone from the group should meet with the new player away from the game, or early if you meet up somewhere like a game store, and explain to the player some of the group’s norms. If the new player understands why people were frustrated and snapped at him then he can fit in better for the next session.

*This is assuming that this player will be coming back, if not you can ignore this.


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